Photo: Stockton serial killings suspect Wesley Brownlee (center) is arraigned in San Joaquin County court on Tuesday. (Courtesy of Central Valley TV)
A Stockton man arrested in connection with a series of killings in Oakland and Stockton over the last year and a half was hit with additional felony murder charges at an arraignment Tuesday.
Wesley Brownlee, 43, was detained over the weekend after police say they connected him to seven shootings — six in Stockton and one in Oakland — that have occurred since April of last year that resulted in six deaths and left one victim injured but alive. He initially faced just one murder charge along with four other weapons-related charges, but the suspected serial killer has seen the criminal complaint against him evolve, including two additional counts of murder.
Officials say even more charges are likely in the works.
At a press conference immediately following Brownlee’s arraignment, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar assured the community that authorities’ investigation is not over and they are working around the clock.
“There are two more murder victims and an attempted murder,” Verber Salazar said.
Brownlee is facing a slew of charges and criminal enhancements that include three counts of murder, intentional discharge of a firearm causing great bodily injure or death and use of a firearm in commission of a felony, according to the case’s official criminal complaint. If he’s found guilty of more than one first or second degree murder charge, each count also carries a special circumstance for conviction of multiple murders, which Verber Salazar says qualifies the case for the death penalty.
While Brownlee is a current resident of Stockton, Verber Salazar said he only moved to the city this summer and has in the past primarily lived in the Bay Area. He was also described as an interstate truck driver with some family living in the Stockton area.
The current murder charges Brownlee is facing were filed for the shooting deaths of Jonathan Rodriguez Hernandez, 21, on Aug. 30; Juan Carlos Carranza-Cruz, 52, on Sept. 21; and Lawerence Lopez Sr., 54, on Sept. 27, the DA’s office said. They are the three most recent victims killed in this alleged serial case.
Charges have not been filed in three other Stockton shootings — which resulted in two deaths and what has been described by Verber Salazar as an “attempted murder” of another victim — authorities say are connected to the killings Brownlee is charged. The same goes for an Oakland man in April of last year that police have said was the first shooting victim in the series.
All six shootings in Stockton and the one in Oakland were connected through ballistics data and similarities in how the crimes were committed, police say.
“We charged the cases today because we believe we have sufficient evidence to pursue these charges and prove them beyond a reasonable doubt,” Verber Salazar said. “We are also confident that additional charges will be added.”
The case is currently expected to be tried in San Joaquin County, DA spokesperson Elisa Buback said. Vasquez Serrano’s death is still be investigated and local authorities are working on a cooperation agreement with Alameda County.
Additional charges officially filed Tuesday against Brownlee include a felon in possession of a firearm and felon in possession of ammunition. Verber Salazar said Brownlee was previously convicted of drug possession charges in Alameda County.
Brownlee is due back in court Nov. 14 in Stockton at 8:30 a.m., according to San Joaquin County online jail records.
Leave a comment